Мечты о филде из 28 машин в каждой гонке так и остаются мечтами.
INDYCAR: Free Agents Abound
Written by: Robin Miller
11/12/2008 - 06:03 PM
Wilson's and Power's impressive transitions to IndyCars haven't earned them a return ticket for 2009 yet. (LAT photo) » More Photos
“You’re our guy, the team is behind you and we really want you back but....” Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson have all heard this same refrain during the past few months.
It’s the state of IndyCar racing in this economically challenging time that these four proven racers are all free agents. As it stands today, this quartet is experienced, proven, fast and all without a deal for 2009.
”I should be prepared for this since this is nothing new for my career,” said Servia, who has seldom felt security during his nine years in CART/Champ Car/IndyCar. “But, because of unification and because I think I showed myself well this past season, I figured I’ve had two or three offers by now.
“I had higher expectations we’d all know what we are doing by now, but that’s not the case.”
With one series for the first time in 12 years and a consistent 26-car lineup, it appeared good times had finally returned for drivers. But the uncertainty of employment and car count looms large heading for Thanksgiving.
The one-car Rahal Letterman effort, which won Watkins Glen and ran up front most of 2008 with Hunter-Reay, is in serious jeopardy of losing Ethanol as its sponsor.
“‘Bleak’ is the word that is being used,” said Hunter-Reay, referring to Ethanol’s chances of returning as primary sponsor. “It’s looking pretty bad and my contract has not been renewed, so I’m available.”
Rahal admitted that he’s “concerned and nervous” about Ethanol coming back for a fourth year.
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing picked up the option on Graham Rahal, but not Wilson because it has only McDonald’s on board as a sponsor.
“They thought they had a sponsor lined up but it fell through, so they told me I need to put my own interests first,” said Wilson, a winner at Detroit in his initial IRL season. “So, I’m seeing what options are out there and they told me to get back to them before I signed anything.”
The KV Racing duo of Power and Servia showed best week in and week out of the transition teams from Champ Car, but without a race in
Australia anymore and sponsor Craig Gore likely out because of that, Kevin
Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser are scrambling to find sponsorship.
“They want to keep me – we had some success together and like working with my guys, but KV doesn’t have a big sponsor and I don’t have a deal yet for next year,” said Power, who captured the Champ Car finale at Long Beach and was running away at Surfer’s from the pole before crashing out.
“The team wants to keep us both and I know Kevin and Jimmy are working hard to find something, but we don’t have a deal,” said Servia, who had four Top 5s and qualified up front at all the road races.
Of course the big problem is that there are so few options available. “There’s very little out there,” said Wilson.
Depending on the outcome of Helio Castroneves’ Federal Court trial in March on tax evasion charges, one very good seat could come open. But who wants to wait that long to see if there’s a job opening?
“It’s frustrating and mentally draining,” said Hunter-Reay, who at 28 is in the prime of his career. “You do a good job and then you don’t know if you’re going to even have a job. Justin, Will, Oriol and I were standing around at the banquet saying, ‘Man, this is ridiculous.’”
The waiting game takes it toll, even on guys like Servia. “I hate to be in this position again,” he said.
Added Power: “I had an offer to go back and do V8 SuperCup, but I want to stay here in Indy cars.”
With a new mouth to feed (baby daughter), Wilson knows his No. 1 goal. “Right now I’ve got to take care of myself and my family, so I’m calling everyone. I get a lot of compliments and people tell me I’m high on their list, but that doesn’t get me a ride.”
Throw in Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira, Tomas Scheckter and Darren Manning and the list of good free agents in IndyCar is startling. Hunter-Reay, who replaced Jeff Simmons at Rahal Letterman in 2007 after being abandoned in Champ Car, knows what the others are feeling.
“For a lot of us,” he said, “it’s open wheel racing in November.”
Полный аллес, короче. Может быть, под шумок всемирного кризиса, ТГ лучше бы обанкротиться?